Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cards take two in Wrigley

For the first time this season, the St. Louis Cardinals won two games of a series in Chicago. Winless until Friday, the Cardinals took two over the weekend with impressive starts by pitchers Jason Marquis and staff ace Chris Carpenter.

August 18
St. Louis 11, Chi. Cubs 3
Winning pitcher - Jason Marquis (13-11)
HR: Ronnie Belliard (9), Gary Bennett (1), Chris Duncan (12), Albert Pujols (36), Scott Rolen (18), Preston Wilson (10)
The home run by Gary Bennett was the first one this season.

August 19
St. Louis 4, Chi. Cubs 5
Losing pitcher - Jason Isringhausen (4-6)
HR: Chris Duncan (13), Yadier Molina (5)
Despite the quality start by Jeff Suppan, the Cardinals were unable to win the game due to a catch by Juan Pierre at the top of the ivy when Pujols was up with the bases loaded.

August 20
St. Louis 5, Chi. Cubs 3
Winning pitcher - Chris Carpenter (12-6)
SV - Jason Isringhausen (30)
HR: Chris Duncan (14), Juan Encarnacion (17)
Chris Carpenter pitched eight quality innings with seven strikeouts to earn his 12th win of the season. Carp moved his ERA from 3.09 to 3.05 and now ranks fifth in all of MLB. Jason Isringhausen gave up a home run but managed to pick up his 30th save of the season. Izzy is currently ranked 3rd among NL closers in saves.

The big news of the weekend was that Preston Wilson was signed by the Cardinals. He has been starting in RF with Juan in center due to Jim Edmonds' suffering post-concussion syndrome. Mark Mulder is expected to rejoin the rotation for the first time since June.

Albert Pujols is about to become the first player in MLB history to score 100 runs, drive in 100 runs, bat over .300, and hit 30 home runs in his first six seasons. He is nine runs and 2 RBI shy of the mark this season.

Milestone watch:
Albert Pujols needs 18 home runs to tie Ken Boyer for 2nd on the Cardinals all-time home runs list with 255.
Jim Edmonds needs 1 home run to pass Ray Lankford for 4th all-time as a Cardinal.
Jason Isringhausen needs 4 saves for 250 career saves.
Tony La Russa needs to manage 2 games to tie Bucky Harris for for 3rd all-time at 4408 games.

Chris Duncan remains my sleeper pick to win the NL ROY award in 2006. Sure, most people are predicting that it will go to Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals or Louisville native Dan Uggla of the Marlins. However, look at the impressive stats put up this season by the Cardinal rookie outfielder.

May - In four games, Duncan bats .200 with a home run in his first game back to the major leagues.

June - Bats .286 in games from June 4 - June 21. Hits two home runs.

July - Called back up on July 3. Hits .324 for the month of July with 3 home runs.

August - The month isn't over yet but Chris Duncan is hitting .417 with 8 home runs and nine multi-hit games. He has a seven game hitting streak going on. Duncan started the month with a batting average of .306 and right now, it's at .345. He does not yet have the at bats to qualify for a silver slugger but if the numbers this month say anything, it's that he is a legitimate player.

Next up for the Cardinals is a series in NYC against the New York Mets before returning home to take on the hated Chicago Cubs.

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